Joaquin Benoit Rumors
Some links to check out as Cody Ross attempts to follow up yesterday's two-home run performance and the Phillies look to even the score...
- Speaking of Ross, Andrew Baggarly of The Mercury News reports that Giants GM Brian Sabean left a "clear impression" before tonight's game that the outfielder will be tendered a contract this offseason.
- Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe tweets that Red Sox bench coach DeMarlo Hale is getting a second interview for the Blue Jays managerial position.
- SI.com's Jon Heyman tweets that the Mets have been "asking around" about Rangers GM Jon Daniels, and things could get interesting. Daniels can opt out of his contract after the season since the team was sold.
- Steve Popper of The Bergen Record says that the Mets might not be making the popular choices right now, especially with Francisco Rodriguez, Oliver Perez, Carlos Beltran, and Luis Castillo, but they're the right moves.
- Popper also reports that the Tigers denied the Mets permission to talk to assistant GM Al Avila about their GM vacancy.
- ESPN's Buster Olney tweets that Eric Young will be named the D'Backs first base coach later this week. In a second tweet, he says Eric Wedge's former pitching coach Carl Willis will likely play a big role on his new staff in Seattle.
- Despite the expected heavy interest from the Yankees and Rangers, Michael Silverman from the Boston Herald thinks the Red Sox should make a serious run at Cliff Lee.
- In the second page of that same article, Silverman quotes an unnamed executive in saying that a package consisting of Jacoby Ellsbury, Jed Lowrie, and prospect Anthony Rizzo wouldn't be enough to pry Adrian Gonzalez away from the Padres. He speculates the names that would be mentioned next would include Casey Kelly and Jose Iglesias.
- Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports says it makes more sense for the Orioles to trade for a middle-of-the-lineup hitter and an ace starter than seek one in free agency, and asks readers whether or not the O's should pursue Zack Greinke. In his blog post earlier today, ESPN's Buster Olney didn't see Baltimore as a fit for the Kansas City ace.
- Reduced payroll will force the Rays into some tough decisions, writes Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times. As Topkin points out, nearly the entire bullpen is entering free agency. Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Randy Choate, Joaquin Benoit, and Chad Qualls are only signed through 2010, while Dan Wheeler's $4MM option will be declined and Lance Cormier could be non-tendered. Balfour and Choate are most likely to return, while Benoit will likely look to capitalize on his monster season.
- Richard Griffin from the Toronto Star spoke with Phillies bench coach Pete Mackanin, who could be a candidate for the Jays' managerial opening, about the difficulty of getting a foot in the door as a manager. As Griffin says, part of the reason they continue to interview candidates while other teams are filling their managerial positions could be because they have a high level of interest in someone like Mackanin, whose team is still playing.
- The Phillies' worst nightmare isn't losing to the Giants in the NLCS or losing to the Yankees in the World Series, according FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal. It's going to the World Series and facing the ace they traded away last offseason, who now sports a Rangers uniform -- Cliff Lee.
Let's round up the highlights from Nick Cafardo's Sunday column for the Boston Globe....
- One AL executive tells Cafardo that he's never seen so many candidates interviewed for managerial openings: "It’s amazing to me that you wouldn’t know within, say, two or three candidates who you want. But I guess in some cases the GM’s job is also on the line if he picks the wrong guy."
- Matt Stairs would like to play for at least one more season. While he says he'd like to return to Boston, he concedes that he'd probably play "anywhere."
- An NL scout was positive about A.J. Pierzynski, suggesting that he'll be one of the most attractive catching options on the free agent market, behind Victor Martinez and John Buck. "With A.J., you know he’s not going to throw people out," said the scout. "But there’s nothing wrong with his receiving and he can still hit. I know the fire he has can rub people the wrong way, but I think that’s great for a team."
- Brandon Inge has a good chance of landing a starting role this winter, given the lack of free agent third base options after Adrian Beltre. However, Cafardo wonders if Inge could eventually become a Bill Hall-esque utility player, given his ability to play a few different positions.
- Possible bullpen targets for the Red Sox include Joaquin Benoit, Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Jason Frasor, Scott Downs, and Brian Fuentes.
- A market appears to be developing for Lance Berkman. Teams like the Rockies, Orioles, Mets, Blue Jays, and Diamondbacks could have interest.
- Carlos Delgado underwent another hip procedure two and a half weeks ago, but is rehabbing the hip and feels like he'll be able to play in 2011.
Most MLBTR readers said R.A. Dickey was the best minor league signing of the year when we voted earlier in the month, but the Mets fell out of contention long ago, so Dickey didn't have much of an impact on this year's pennant race. The five minor league deals below had lasting effects on the 2010 pennant race:
- Rays sign Joaquin Benoit - The reliever has a 1.39 ERA in 61 games with 11.1 K/9 and 1.7 BB/9. Amazingly, Benoit has allowed just 28 hits in 58.1 innings.
- Reds sign Miguel Cairo - There are bigger stars on the Reds, but Cairo has batted .289/.352/.411 and played all four infield positions. Cincinnati GM Walt Jocketty deserves credit for this find.
- Yankees sign Marcus Thames - Thames has hit .287/.352/.500 this year with 12 homers in 227 plate appearances.
- Giants sign Pat Burrell - GM Brian Sabean bought low on Burrell, who has responded with 17 homers and an .869 OPS in San Francisco. Burrell is playing the way he did in 2008 and without that kind of production, the Giants probably wouldn't be leading the NL West.
- Padres sign Chris Denorfia - Denorfia has hit .264/.332/.435 in 302 plate appearances for the Padres, who have seen outfielders Tony Gwynn and Kyle Blanks miss significant time with injuries.
Nick Cafardo of The Boston Globe breaks down the 2010 Red Sox and what members of the team may not be around for 2011. He says Jayson Werth will be a free agent target and wonders if they're willing to commit three or four years to Adrian Beltre, who is having a monster season. Jacoby Ellsbury and Daisuke Matsuzaka could be trade bait, and then there's the issue of David Ortiz's $12.5MM option.
Let's round up the rest of Cafardo's rumors...
- There have been "minimal, if any" talks between the Sox and Victor Martinez about a new contract.
- Expect Boston to revamp their bullpen, which could mean replacing Hideki Okajima.
- Carfado believes that the Rangers settled ownership situation will help the team down the stretch as the players don't have to deal with any speculation.
- Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit, a pair of offseason pickups that are the Rays' two best relievers, will need to have their workloads monitored down the stretch, particularly Benoit who is coming off major shoulder surgery.
- The Angels have close to $110MM tied up in 2011 payroll counting arbitration raises, which could hinder their pursuit of free agents this winter.
- Kenny Williams says that teams never asked for Dayan Viciedo in a trade because they knew he was unavailable. We heard that Williams was willing to trade him before the deadline.
- A split between the Mariners and manager Don Wakamatsu seems likely this offseason.
Rangers GM Jon Daniels told fans that the Rangers will explore ways to add difference-makers this summer and are prepared to trade some prospects in the right situation. Daniels made some more hot stove-related comments while chatting at the Dallas Morning News today - here they are:
- The Rangers didn't want to offer Ivan Rodriguez or any other available catcher a two-year deal last winter and they're content with their decision.
- They're reportedly interested in catchers, but don't have a timetable for bringing Jarrod Saltalamacchia back.
- The Rangers look for upside and makeup in players they draft, regardless of the player's level.
- Daniels is in favor of trading draft picks since it would give teams flexibility.
- Daniels wouldn't rule out signing Nelson Cruz and Josh Hamilton to extensions.
- It was just time for [Joaquin Benoit] to move on."
We could very well see a buyer's market for pitching this summer, writes ESPN.com's Buster Olney. Veterans like Ben Sheets, Jake Westbrook, Kevin Millwood and Cliff Lee could join Roy Oswalt on the trade market and give interested teams plenty of choice. Here are the rest of Olney's rumors:
- There's not much of a chance that the Dodgers will have the money to pursue Oswalt during the season, though they did call to inquire about him. Lee would be more affordable, but the Mariners would have to make him available and the Dodgers would have to out-bid other suitors.
- The Rays had a pair of scouts tracking the now-dominant Joaquin Benoit last winter, before they signed him. That signing has worked out for the Rays and for Benoit, who has yet to allow an earned run.
- The Rangers are apparently looking for catching help. This comes as no surprise, since we've heard that they have some interest in A.J. Pierzynski and Rod Barajas.
- Third base coaches Chip Hale (Mets) and Mike Quade (Cubs) may have futures as big league managers.
The Rays signed Joaquin Benoit after a year in which he didn't throw a major league pitch. The 32-year-old missed all of 2009 with rotator cuff surgery, so Tampa Bay was paying for promise, not performance. So far in 2010, the reliever has delivered one dominant outing after the other.
He didn't make the Opening Day roster, but struck out 15.8 batters per nine at Triple A Durham, with just 2.8 BB/9. He has yet to allow a run in six appearances since getting the call to the majors and has nine strikeouts (including all five batters who faced him last night) in 6.2 innings with just one walk.
But performance isn't everything for free agent relievers. Just ask Kiko Calero, who couldn't secure a major league deal last winter because teams questioned his health despite the 1.95 ERA and 10.4 K/9 he posted in 60 innings. If Benoit continues pitching well, his stats will convince teams that he can perform, but his agents will have to convince them that he can stay healthy if he wants a guaranteed contract.
Benoit's fastball is harder than ever, which suggests he has recovered from last year's rotator cuff surgery. If that's the case, he could ask for a guaranteed deal, like the ones some strikeout-inducing relievers agreed to last winter. Kevin Gregg ($2.75MM), J.J. Putz ($3MM) and Octavio Dotel ($3.5MM) signed deals that could become models for the one Benoit signs after 2010.
The Rays signed reliever Joaquin Benoit to a minor league deal that will pay the righty $750K if he makes the team, plus up to $500K in performance bonuses. Benoit, 32, had rotator cuff surgery in January of '09. The Rays will have a bargain if he can return to his '07 level of performance: a 2.85 ERA and 9.5 K/9 in 82 innings. That season prompted the Rangers to sign Benoit to a two-year, $6MM deal.
Ben Nicholson-Smith contributed to this post.
MLB.com's T.R. Sullivan examined what some of the Rangers' plans might be this winter, and here are some of the highlights...
- A right-handed bat is at the top of the Texas wish list for the off-season, with Sullivan singling out Jermaine Dye as perhaps the best fit for the Rangers amongst the veteran hitters on the free agent market.
- There is a good chance that veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel will re-sign with Texas before the club's exclusive negotiating period for free agents ends on November 19. Sullivan reports that "there appears to be genuine interest on both sides" to bring the 11-time Gold Glover back for his 22nd big-league season in 2010.
- Texas GM Jon Daniels says that the team would like to bring back free-agent outfielder Marlon Byrd, but since Byrd wants to test the market, "it's just not going to happen in the exclusive window period, if it's going to happen at all."
- The Rangers want to see how Jarrod Saltalamacchia rebounds from shoulder surgery before looking at re-signing veteran catcher and franchise legend Ivan Rodriguez.
- In regards to the other four Texas free agents, Sullivan said that Andruw Jones and Hank Blalock won't be pursued by the club, Eddie Guardado may retire and Joaquin Benoit is "in limbo" following shoulder surgery that sidelined him for all of 2009.
- If Ben Sheets is able to pitch in 2010, the Rangers still have interest in the right-hander who they thought they had signed last January.
- Relief pitching will become a priority if Neftali Feliz and C.J. Wilson are moved to the rotation. Sullivan lists several bullpen options for the Rangers, many of whom have pitched in Texas before.
Links for Wednesday...
- The Mets favor Matt Holliday over Jason Bay, according to SI's Jon Heyman.
- Adam Guttridge of The Hardball Times explains why J.J. Hardy is a prime buy-low opportunity.
- Tyler Hissey of Around the Majors notes that Jason Hammel has been a great pickup for the Rockies.
- Tommy Rancel of DRays Bay says the Rays should pursue free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit.